PR Nav | Gatwick Airport

Precision area navigation (P-RNAV)

Noise preferential routes (NPRs) are set by the Department for Transport for all UK airports, including Gatwick.

Following a consultation in 2012, Gatwick Airport was the first UK airport to be given permission by the CAA, to fully implement a new form of aircraft navigation on all departing aircraft. P-RNAV allows aircraft to fly a much more accurate track within Noise Preferential Routes (NPRs) or ‘corridors’, which are set by the Department for Transport for all UK airports, and have been in place at Gatwick since 1968. There are nine NPRs operating from our airport.

All aircraft leaving Gatwick follow NPRs up to an altitude of either 3,000ft or 4,000ft as they leave the airport, dependent on the route. Once an aircraft has reached the required altitude, it may be given a more direct heading to its destination, a practice known as vectoring. It is not uncommon for areas close to NPRs to be overflown by aircraft which have been ‘vectored’, although no aircraft will ever fly under an NPR. This is not a new procedure and has been in place for many years.

P-RNAV was made mandatory on all departures routes at Gatwick in May 2014, after which the CAA began a review process called a post-implementation review (PIR) which is standard practice following an airspace change. This review began in November 2014 and was published in November 2015. 

The purpose of the CAA’s review was to ensure that the tracks flown by aircraft were compliant with regulations and that they are an accurate representation against those shown within Gatwick’s consultation. The review concluded that 8 out of Gatwick’s 9 routes were fully compliant and were approved. 

One route however (Route 4/ 26 LAM – an NPR departing from the west before wrapping around 180 degrees to the right to fly out to the east) - required some work to make it more accurate and fully compliant.  The review also stated that two other routes - Route 2/08 SFD – an easterly route which turns south past East Grinstead and Route 5/08CLN – an easterly route which heads straight out - need slight modification in order to increase the accuracy of the aircraft tracks. 

We are working hard to rectify the issue on the Route 4/ 26LAM route initially and hope to publish a timeline of these works on Gatwick’s website in the coming weeks.   Modifications to the remaining two routes will be made after the issues with Route 4/26LAM have been resolved.

Through our consultation we asked for your views on the proposed refinements to the departure routes within NPRs which will eventually replace the current standard departure routes from the airport. The new routes will be more accurately defined using improved navigational capabilities (P-RNAV).